When it comes to shared parenting, conflicts are bound to arise at some point. Dealing with them can be stressful, but there are ways to resolve these conflicts. Sword fighting is not one of them.

However, that is exactly what one stressed-out father requested of the court to resolve a child custody dispute with his ex-wife, according to an article from USA Today. The judge responded by ordering a psychiatric evaluation and temporarily banning the father from seeing his children at all.

Here are some much more legal and positive means for addressing, or even preventing, a child custody dispute, according to Psychology Today:

  1. Keep lines of communication open. Clearly explain what you are concerned about and how you would like to see your concerns addressed. Ask your coparent for clarification when you are unclear, without making any assumptions about their intentions or expectations.
  2. Take your coparent seriously. You may not always agree with your coparent’s opinions about raising your child, or anything else for that matter. Nonetheless, taking those opinions seriously, even if you would prefer they not be acted upon, can prove more beneficial than acting dismissively toward them.
  3. Be flexible. If you haven’t already, you may reach a situation in your parenting career where you need to ask your coparent for some flexibility. Keep that in mind if they ask you for some flexibility. Giving a little leeway here and there can sometimes prevent big disputes.
  4. Let little things go. Addressing a consistent, major problem is one thing. However, there’s no benefit to continuing to bring up one small problem that happened months or years ago and trying to hold it against your coparent. It’s more likely to lead to an argument than any sort of resolution.
  5. Compromise. As the article states, at the end of the day, the winner of any dispute should be the child. When you look at it that way, that neither you nor your coparent will be the winner, it can be easier to make a compromise in the child’s best interest.
  6. Don’t take the law into your own hands. Not surprisingly, the father who thought it would be a good idea to ask the court to let him sword fight his coparent for a resolution did not have a lawyer and instead was representing himself. When child custody problems get too big to resolve and a battle starts raging, know that there are professionals you can turn to for help pursuing the outcome you prefer without doing any unintentional damage to your relationship with your child.